Unformatted text preview: Overview What is Sociology? What is Sociological Theory? Major Theoretical Perspectives The Sociological Imagination What is Sociology? The scientific study of human societies and social behavior Studies the influence of social relationships on people's attitudes and behavior and change over time Studies how societies are structured What is Sociology?
Sociology and Common Sense Knowledge that relies on "common sense" is often unreliable Sociologists use scientific methods to systematically test and analyze information Sociology is a social science What is Sociology?
Natural Sciences vs. Social Sciences Natural Science: the study of features of the natural environment Examples... Biology, geology, chemistry, physics... What is Sociology?
Natural Sciences vs. Social Sciences Social Science: the study of human relationships and the social world. Examples... Anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology What is Sociology?
Sociology and the Social Sciences The disciplinary boundaries can be blurry Anthro: study of the physical, social, and Econ: study of markets (how goods and cultural development of humans services are distributed) Poli Sci: study of politics and government Psych: study of mental processes What is Sociology?
Ok...But What Do Sociologists DO? Professional sociologists Academic Applied Requires graduatelevel training Lots of sociology undergrads don't become prof. sociologists, but use their sociological imagination all the time! What is Sociological Theory? Scientists build theories to provide explanatory stories Theory: a general statement explaining how things work, how the pieces fit together Data show what is Theories explain how and why What is Sociological Theory? Sociological Theories: statements that seek to explain how the social world works Effective theories should explain and predict Sociologists use theories to examine and test the relationships between observations (data) Levels of Analysis Macrolevel analysis: examination of largescale patterns of society Dynamics of large groups, organizations, and society as a whole Microlevel analysis: examination of smallscale patterns of society Interactions between individuals and small groups Major Theoretical Perspectives The Functionalist Perspective Focuses on the macrolevel Views society as a network of connected parts, each helping to maintain the system as a whole Each part has a function Emphasizes how parts function to maintain social stability Major Theoretical Perspectives The Functionalist Perspective Manifest Functions: open, recognized, purpose of an aspect of society Latent Functions: "behind the scenes" functions Dysfunctions: an element of society that that disrupts the stability of the system Negatively impacts the functioning of society Major Theoretical Perspectives The Conflict Perspective Focuses on the macrolevel Views society as best understood by understanding conflict between groups Conflict is not necessarily violent Competing (conflicting) interests Major Theoretical Perspectives The Conflict Perspective Focuses on how those with wealth and power maintain and/or impose their will on others How those without wealth and power struggle to acquire it Major Theoretical Perspectives
Interactionist Perspective Focuses on microlevel Views interaction and symbolic understandings as central to understanding social dynamics "Symbols" may include material objects, verbal and nonverbal language... Focuses on everyday forms of social interaction to understand the social world Theoretical Approaches Sociologists make use of all three perspectives Each perspective can offer unique insights into the same issue Represent "lenses" through which view or frame sociological understandings The Sociological Imagination Awareness of the relationship between the individual and wider society See connection between personal problems and public issues Ability to view society as an "outsider" Understanding human behavior within its broader social context ...
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- Spring '07
- Sociology, Major Theoretical Perspectives